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Posted at: Jul 20, 2019, 6:54 AM; last updated: Jul 20, 2019, 10:14 AM (IST)

Rabab to nagaara: Anandpur Sahib to host glimpses into Guru Nanak’s life from today

Rabab to nagaara: Anandpur Sahib to host glimpses into Guru Nanak’s life from today
Entitled ‘From rabab to nagaara’, the show curated by Delhi-based National Institute of Punjab Studies features 42 depicts that capture the life of the first Sikh Guru. File photo

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 20

Starting Saturday, Punjab’s holy city Anandpur Sahib will host a rare exhibition on the life and times of Guru Nanak, whose 550th birth anniversary celebrations are under way nationally.

Entitled ‘From rabab to nagaara’, the show curated by Delhi-based National Institute of Punjab Studies features 42 depicts that capture the life of the first Sikh Guru.

The opening piece of the exhibition is a rare copy of an original painting now housed at Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata. It depicts the Guru in the company of Mardana with a rabab on one side and Bala with flywhisk on the other.

“The picture conveys the primal creed of Sikhism with Guru Nanak acting as a bridge between two religious traditions of his times. The picture used to be the centrepiece of adoration in the households of all Baba Nanak followers. But today it is only found in the rarest books or in museums. What is widely found is the painting of Baba Nanak by Sobha Singh which stands immensely popularised. Our aim through the exhibition is to present the Guru as he was–a Jagadguru, never lonely and in the company of followers Mardana and Bala,” says Mohinder Singh of the Institute who led the selections for the show.

Another feature of the exhibition, to be housed at Virasat-e-Khalsa Memorial, is the print of a painting that currently adorns the walls of Gurdwara Baba Atal in Amritsar. This beautiful work captures the birth of Guru Nanak who was first seen by his midwife Daulata, a Muslim woman.

“In these times of acrimony and religious polarisation, Guru Nanak’s message of brotherhood is critical. The wall painting from Gurdwara Baba Atal speaks of how Daulata, a Muslim midwife, got to see the great saint even before his own mother did. The painting is loaded with symbolism,” says Singh.

Baba Nanak’s stress on equality shines through in the collection first opened in New Delhi some months ago by The Dalai Lama.

“There is a print that features the day when Guru Nanak embarks on his first Udasi to spread his universal message. The painting sourced from Maharani Jinda’s personal prayer book currently in the collection of the British Museum at London, shows how Guru Nanak chooses to halt at the hutment of a poor man for food while a prosperous rich local chieftain waits with his lavish treat for the Jagadguru,” the curator adds.

The title of the exhibition is special as it signifies what curators call “the completion of the Mission of Guru Nanak’s life.”

“Guru Nanak’s mission was to awaken the people from slumber which he did using the melodious rabab. The Guru also blazed the trail for others by ignoring his sons Sri Chand and Lakshmi Das as successors and choosing Bhai Lehna instead. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru completed the Mission of Guru Nanak by playing the nagaara at Anandpur Saheb which he built as a sovereign city challenging the Mughal rule. The beats of nagaara symbolized the declaration of sovereignty as Guru Gobind Singh assumed all the markers of the sovereign state at the time including horses and nagaaras,” Mohinder Singh says.

Nov 12 as national tolerance day: Bittu

Lok Sabha MP from Punjab Ravneet Singh Bittu has urged the Centre to declare November 12, the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, as National Tolerance Day.

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